Missouri football took a lick this past Saturday in their SEC debut, but will now shift gears and focus on one of the Pac-12's best in the Arizona State Sun Devils.
Just as last week, this game will be in Columbia on ESPN2 in front of a national audience. Missouri will want revenge on Arizona State from last year's game in Tempe, a 37-30 overtime loss that left a bitter taste in the Tigers' mouth.
And more than revenge, Missouri will want to avoid falling into an ugly 1-2 hole, one that could cast doubt and set a bad tone for the rest of their season.
Who: Arizona State at Missouri
When: Saturday Sept. 15, 6:00pm (CST)
Where: Columbia, Mo.
Stadium: Memorial Stadium (71,004, FieldTurf surface)
Internet Stream: WatchESPN app
Depth Chart for Missouri
QB—James Franklin, Corbin Berkstresser
RB—Kendial Lawrence, Marcus Murphy, Russell Hansbrough, Jared McGriff-Culver
WR (Y)—Eric Waters, Dorial Green-Beckham, Sean Culkin
WR (X)—Marcus Lucus, Rolandis Woodland, Jaleel Clark
WR (H)—T.J. Moe, Gahn McGaffie, Jimmie Hunt
WR (Z)—L’Damian Washington, Bud Sasser, Kerwin Stricker
LT—Justin Britt, Anthony Gatti
LG—Evan Boehm, Michael Boddie
C—Brad McNulty, Connor McGovern
RG—Max Copeland, Nick Demien
RT—Mitch Morse, Chris Freeman
DE—Michael Sam, Shane Ray
DT—Sheldon Richardson, Lucas Vincent, Marvin Foster
NG— Matt Hoch, Jimmy Burge
DE—Brad Madison, Kony Ealy, Brayden Burnett
LB(W)—Donovan Bonner, Darvin Ruise
LB(M)—Will Ebner, Kentrell Brothers
LB(S)—Andrew Wilson, Markus Golden
CB—Kip Edwards, Randy Ponder
CB—E.J. Gaines, Xavier Smith, Ernest Payton
SS—Kenronte Walker, Ian Simon, Daniel Easterly
FS—Braylon Webb, Matt White, Cortland Browning
P—Tray Barrow, Christian Brinser
PK—Andrew Baggett, Tray Barrow
H—T.J. Moe, Gahn McGaffie
DS—Brad Madison, Mitch Hall
KR—T.J. Moe, Marcus Murphy
PR—Marcus Murphy, E.J. Gaines
Depth Chart for Arizona State
QB—Taylor Kelly, Michael Eubank, Mike Bercovici
TB—Cameron Marshall, James Morrison, Marion Grice
RB—D.J. Foster, Marion Grice
WR (Y)—J.J. Holliday, Kevin Ozier, Gary Chambers
WR (X)—Rashad Ross, Alonzo Agwuenu
WR (Z)—Jamal Miles, Kyle Middlebrooks, Richard Smith, A.J. Pickens
WR (H)—Chris Coyle, Darwin Rogers, Marcus Washington
TE—Marcus Washington, Darwin Rogers, Max Smith
LT—Evan Fickenberg, Kyle Johnson, Evan Goodman
LG—Jamil Douglas, Sil Ajawara
C—Kody Koebensky, Mo Latu, Devin Goodman
RG—Andrew Sampson, Vi Teofilo
RT—Brice Schwab, Tyler Sulka
Defense (4-3 scheme)
DE—Carl Bradford, Kipeli Koniseti
DT—Will Sutton, Gannon Conway, Jake Sheffield
DT—Jaxon Hood, Mike Pennel, Toa Tuitea
DE—Junior Onyeali, Davon Coleman
LB (S)—Chris Young, Anthony Jones
LB (M)—Steffon Martin, Brandon Johnson
LB (W)—Brandon Magee, Grandville Taylor
CB—Osahon Irabor, Kevin Anderson
CB—Deveron Carr, Robert Nelson
FS—Alden Darby, Kevin Ayers, Viliami Moeakiola
FS—Keelan Johnson, Ezekial Bishop, Luke Williams
P—Josh Hubner, Dillon Jackson
PK—Alex Garoutte, Jon Mora, Dillon Jackson
H—Mike Bercovici, Josh Hubner
DS—Easton Wahlstrom, Max Smith
KR—Jamal Miles, Robert Nelson, D.J. Foster, Marion Grice, Rashad Ross
PR—Jamal Miles, Robert Nelson, D.J. Foster
What Happened to the Tigers Last Week?
It was a historic night in Columbia, Mo. as Missouri played in a new conference game for the first time since they joined the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1907.
The Tigers had plenty of backing from their fans who showed up for an official sellout, but the party ended in the fourth quarter when it became the Jarvis Jones show in Columbia.
Jones had two huge plays that set up Georgia drives in the Missouri red zone, lopsiding the scoreboard in what was otherwise a very closely contested game.
Missouri did get great performances from Marcus Lucas on offense, and Brad Madison on defense among others. Lucas had six catches for 88 yards and a touchdown, while Madison registered two sacks of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, both on third down.
The elephant in the room for Missouri though will be the absence of their All-America candidate at left tackle, Elvis Fisher. Fisher went down hard in the first half with an MCL injury, and although Gary Pinkel has said Fisher is out "indefinitely," Fisher himself hopes to be out only four weeks.
The injury was not a tear, meaning that surgery will not be required but rehab for the knee will.
What Happened to the Sun Devils Last Week?
Arizona State rolled 45-14 in their second win of the season, flattening a familiar opponent of Missouri's over the years, the Illinois Fighting Illini.
The Sun Devils dominated in total yards 510 to 332 in their impressive win against an Illinois team who had beat Western Michigan 24-7 the week before.
Where ASU lacked in the rushing game with a mere 192 yards rushing, they excelled in the passing game with 318 yards, which included a career day from junior Chris Coyle.
Coyle had 10 catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns, and simply couldn't be stopped by Illinois.
The defense also had an absolute field day, with six of their total 12 tackles for loss being sacks.
What it Means to Both Teams
For Missouri, I wouldn't go as far as to say this game is a "must win," but losing this game would have a far greater negative impact than a win would yield positive feelings.
Both teams were ranked in last season's thriller in Tempe, and although neither team is this time around, there are high expectations for Missouri attempting to prove that they are SEC caliber.
To many fans, Mizzou is expected to win this game. But with the reshuffled offensive line, that may not be as easy as it looked at the beginning of the season.
To Arizona State, it means everything. To go on the road to an SEC school and score a win would do immeasurable things for their confidence.
After Missouri, ASU feels like they have three winnable games against Utah, Cal and Colorado before welcoming Oregon to Tempe. If they can just get past Missouri, they will likely be 6-0 heading into what could be the biggest game in school history against the Ducks.
But for now, they have Mizzou to deal with, and Mizzou still has a guy named James Franklin. He led a solid fourth-quarter comeback in Tempe a year ago, but had no answer for ASU in overtime as the Tigers dropped their first game of the 2011 season.
Key Player for Missouri
I'm sure there will be different opinions about this, but to me without question the key player will be Brad McNulty.
McNulty, a redshirt freshman offensive lineman, will be asked to start in his first NCAA game ever at center while the rest of the line has been shuffled around to deal with the loss of Elvis Fisher.
The offense will begin with McNulty, who will touch the ball to start every Missouri offensive play. His ability to have a consistent snap and exchange with quarterback James Franklin will be crucial if Missouri are to avoid simple mistakes and penalties.
McNulty is going to have pressure, but if there was any young player Missouri would want to have in this position, he is their guy. In his final three seasons at Allen High School in Allen, Texas, he amassed a staggering 143 pancake blocks and an even more impressive 107 knock-down blocks.
He is certainly heralded as a run-oriented lineman, and if he plays up to his potential, could end up giving Missouri an enormous boost at a time when there are huge questions surrounding the O-line.
Key Player for Arizona State
There's no reason that Chris Coyle has the kind of week he did last week and then falls off the radar. He will likely be Taylor Kelly's go-to man again this week.
If Arizona State are to stay in the game, they will have to keep pace with Missouri's no-huddle spread offense. Playing a shoot-out with Mizzou isn't what most teams want to do, but of the Sun Devils feel like they have the firepower, there's no reason for them to take a seat.
In last year's game, Coyle only had one catch for 25 yards, but the receiving game centered around their senior transfer from Oregon Aaron Pflugrad who stunned Mizzou with eight receptions for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
There's little doubt that they will attempt to involve Coyle in much the same way, and I think it's safe to say that he proved to everyone last week that he is more than capable.
Missouri Will Win If...
Their offensive line can mesh together. The quarterback is there for Mizzou, as is their running game, and as Marcus Lucas has shown, their passing game has life as well.
If the line can hold strong and enable the rest of the offense to fire at full capacity, it will be a long night for the Sun Devils in Columbia.
On defense, the coverage will have to be strong for Mizzou. The Tigers will need another big performance out of senior Brad Madison as well. Madison may not get two sacks like he did last Saturday, but if he can simply harass the ASU backfield and cause problems, it will be a huge bonus.
Arizona State Will Win If...
Their defense can perform as well as they did against Illinois. Twelve tackles for loss is a solid number. Missouri is no Illinois, but that won't keep the ASU defense from licking their chops at the idea of going blitz-crazy on this young, inexperienced and patchwork offensive line.
Also, this will be quarterback Taylor Kelly's first big road test. He will have to be able to play a solid game despite the very loud crowd he will encounter. If Kelly can navigate the elements on Faurot Field like they are no obstacle, he will have success.
To open up Coyle, ASU will also have to be more effective in the run game than they were against Illinois. Missouri will be without linebacker Zaviar Gooden, and if the Sun Devils can exploit this, they will have a chance to win.
Earlier this season, I predicted a big win for Missouri in this game. With a reshuffled offensive line, one might be inclined to change that prediction.
Not this guy.
The line is unproven, but I think they go out there and show the entire country on ESPN2 that they mean business. They will enable the run game, and Franklin will be able to be more of a dual-threat without a guy named Jarvis Jones on the field.
I also think this is the game that Dorial Green-Beckham breaks out and shows Tiger fans what he's capable of. He runs a slightly slower 40-yard dash than Jeremy Maclin, but is quicker than Danario Alexander and can be just as physical.
I know that some Missouri fans will think this is a stretch, and it will be bulletin board material in Tempe, but I'm sticking with my exact score prediction of a 42-17 win for Missouri.
The game will be a great contest in the first half, but a much more sound and hungry Mizzou team will come out and outclass the Sun Devils in the second half, showing that their loss to Georgia means that the Dawgs are in National Championship form.
I welcome your comments.